Be­ing Fred­die

The Killer Queen show will rock you when the trib­ute band comes to Ip­swich in Au­gust. For John Blunt, he has made a ca­reer out of por­tray­ing rock icon Fred­die Mer­cury.


WHAT can you say about Queen front man Fred­die Mer­cury that hasn’t al­ready been said?

Per­former. Star. Icon. Leg­end. So many things come to mind when you con­sider his legacy in rock mu­sic as the lead singer of one of the big­gest bands of all time. The band’s pop­u­lar­ity con­tin­ues to this day, de­spite Mer­cury’s pass­ing in 1991, and with the bio pic Bo­hemian Rhap­sody in cin­e­mas on Box­ing Day, our hunger for all things Queen con­tin­ues.

As lead singer of the trib­ute act Killer Queen, John Blunt has turned be­ing a fan into some­thing that loves to do ev­ery week, and that’s lit­er­ally “be­ing Fred­die”. John is bring­ing his show to the Ip­swich Civic Cen­tre on Au­gust 11 and the re­sponse from Ip­swich mu­sic fans has been huge.

"I think there are only a hand­ful of tick­ets left al­ready," John said from his home in Ferny Grove. "The show is two months away and the re­sponse from Ip­swich has been won­der­ful."

John is 48 now and was a teenager when Queen were at their peak in 1985.

"They were al­ways pop­u­lar but af­ter Live AID, those Wembley shows…Queen were at their peak then, and like most peo­ple I was brought up on my father’s mu­sic. "He liked Chuck Berry, Lit­tle Richard, Elvis and The Bea­tles, acts that all in­flu­enced Fred­die Mer­cury. I was turn­ing 17 from mem­ory and a friend played me Queen’s Great­est Hits Vol­ume 1 and I was hooked. That was it. I was truly fas­ci­nated, I couldn’t get enough of Queen. Many might ar­gue I got into them late, but it was still and ex­cit­ing time.

"I think I liked Queen be­cause their mu­sic was so di­verse, there’s heavy metal, there’s love songs, there’s bal­lads, even a bit of opera."

John was work­ing at Warner Broth­ers Movie World on the Gold Coast in the late 1990s and man­age­ment was look­ing at putting to­gether a ‘Leg­ends Show’. It gave John a chance to bring his love of Queen to the stage. "I pitched the idea of be­ing Fred­die Mer­cury to man­age­ment, and that’s where it all started. I left Movie World and thought what do I do now, and my goal was to re­ally ex­per­i­ment with this con­cept a bit fur­ther.

"I was do­ing a show as Elvis Pres­ley and Fred­die, and I called it the King And Queen Show, but even­tu­ally I dropped the Elvis part as I re­alised there was so much com­pe­ti­tion out there, be­sides my heart was al­ways with Queen any­way. So, it then be­came the Killer Queen show, and it’s been fif­teen years now, although I think the last four years we’ve re­ally hit our straps." Aus­tralia is known around the world for pro­duc­ing great trib­ute acts, with bands like Bjorn Again prov­ing that you can take a good idea all over the world. "Trib­ute bands pro­vide nos­tal­gia for peo­ple, es­pe­cially if that band isn’t tour­ing any­more," John said. "Peo­ple of­ten give them a bit of a hard time, as some get it wrong, but many do get it so right. The leg­ends and Gods of rock are slowly leav­ing us, and we are go­ing to be look­ing to these shows to fill that void, and the bet­ter bands do that.

"Peo­ple know I’m not Fred­die, I know I’m not Fred­die, but I want peo­ple to walk about feel­ing like they’ve ex­pe­ri­enced some­thing."

John’s re­sem­blance to Fred­die is un­canny, and it let to him scor­ing the big­gest role of his life, when he was picked to play the star in a doc­u­men­tary in Lon­don called ‘Who Wants to Life For­ever?’

"I got an email from the pro­duc­ers and they said they were do­ing this show, where they’d be talk­ing to friends, body­guards and tour man­agers who knew Fred­die, telling sto­ries, and my job would be to re-en­act them. "It be­came very real when I had to do a skype in­ter­view with the pro­duc­ers, do­ing im­prov, run­ning through some lines and they said they were look­ing all over the world and I had been rec­om­mended to them," John said. "That was sur­real for me.

"I got the part, and next thing I’m on a plane to Lon­don. I still pinch my­self over it. It hasn’t screened on TV here yet but I’m hop­ing it will soon."

John has a the­ory as to what made Fred­die Mer­cury the star he be­came, and when you think about it, he’s spot on.

"The thing that Fred­die had was this un­be­liev­able, re­laxed con­fi­dence," John said. "When he was on stage you felt like he was at home en­ter­tain­ing friends in his liv­ing room. I have never seen any other per­former that re­laxed and com­mand­ing.

"He wanted them to clap, they clapped. He wanted them to sing, they sang. This is 90,000 peo­ple, and he’s in full com­mand. When he walked on stage at Wembley with the crown and cape on, he re­ally was rock roy­alty."

The Killer Queen Ex­pe­ri­ence is at the Ip­swich Civic Cen­tre on Au­gust 11th be­fore head­ing to Toowoomba.


Right: Killer Queen front­man John Blunt chan­nels his hero Fred­die Mer­cury.


The re­sem­b­lence is of­ten un­canny, as this photo shows of John as the Queen lead singer. John Blunt as Fred­die Mer­cury John Blunt in a still from Who Wants To Life For­ever?

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